Growing Into Breeding
What started as one woman's operation has grown into a brand recognized globally, both for the quality of flower as well as, recently, the seeds from which to grow it. I sat down with Lovin’ and her team to talk about this evolution from growing to breeding, and what lessons others can take away from that journey.
Who is Lovin’ In Her Eyes?
Who is the individual responsible for these beautiful buds and the images that capture them?
Lovin’ In Her Eyes is an undeniably feminine brand—without ever revealing the person behind the buds. Because of the sexualization of women in cannabis (and branding as a whole), Lovin’ never used her likeness or name; the focus has always been on the plant.
“I'm a woman and I got called bro all the time. It was annoying...Now I am just done, they can think what they want ... Let people's imagination take it where it is, man, woman…my work is my work,” explains Lovin’. “Sometimes, you meet favorite athletes and musicians, and you think, ‘Oh, not what I thought,’ but you still love their music.”
For this reason, the identity of Lovin’ has always been ambiguous. While it started as a one-woman endeavor, as her efforts continued to grow, the brand has remained woman-owned and operated, but the day-to-day operations are now handled by both Lovin’ (Beth) and her partner, Andy.
Early life + Entrepreneur’s Spirit
Lovin’s relationship with cannabis can be traced back to her mid-teens, smoking brick weed in the greater Phoenix area.
"I grew up in Tempe/Mesa, just outside of Phoenix, and started smoking pot in maybe ’89 or ’90,” Lovin’ recalls. "All brown, brick weed. Occasionally, it would be kinda green, and smell better…it's the green brick.”
After graduating from high school, Lovin’ found herself flexing her entrepreneurial muscles to go on tour with the Grateful Dead. She was 18. It was the Summer of 1994, and Jerry Garcia was still alive.
"When I was introduced to that, it was just bliss. It was the most fun and peacefulness and happiness I had ever felt in my life. I wanted that feeling and that vibe to continue. I wanted a lifestyle that felt good, that was positive, that brought me joy. And, so, in order to do that, I had to get creative with work. So I started making hemp jewelry, bracelets, necklaces, dog leashes, hemp hair wraps in the lot at Dead shows...anything to get more gas money to start traveling.”
But when Jerry passed in 1995, her 18 months on tour came to a pause.
"After Jerry died was when I had to reevaluate...Now what am I going to do? That was my everything for two years."
At the time, Lovin’s Volkswagen Bus that she was traveling in broke down in Kansas City. So, seizing her entrepreneurial spirit, she started an environmentally friendly house cleaning business that she ran during the day. She worked in high end restaurants at night to help cover her bills.
Tapping into her resourceful nature, Lovin’ decided to further engage her travel bug.
“I've always just been clever from a young age with how to make money to do what I wanted in life,” she explains. She realized that most National Parks have a fine dining restaurant attached to the lodge. With her previous fine dining experience in KC, it made sense to get a job where she could make money, explore the park, and then have six months off to travel when the park was closed for the offseason. "When I wanted to travel to National Parks, I decided to bartend at them for six months. I’d see the park and then still have enough money to travel when the park closed...That’s all I wanted to do was travel as much as possible...Working at national parks made sense, it was seasonal, park to park work and I got to see a lot more of the country that way."
She would work at various parks throughout the country for six months at a time, then put all of her stuff into storage and travel for six months, camping in her van initially, and later finding her way overseas.
"Then, I started going overseas and picked up scuba diving. I loved it so much and I couldn’t afford it because I was just a young hippie."
Lovin’ kept going back to bartending in the parks every six months, but went ahead and took all of the diving courses required to become a master scuba diving instructor. Eventually, she was able to make a living as a freelance scuba instructor, traveling multiple countries for a few years.
"Life changes and takes you places…I lived in Thailand for a while, teaching scuba there. The pot sucked. It was horrible,” she laughs. “But I still always got pot...Thailand, Belize, Honduras, Bali, South Africa, Peru, Bolivia...Nowhere was the best; it was all bad… Maybe I just didn't know the right people. Also, being a woman traveler in other countries, when you’re trying to get cannabis in their culture, you are treated very differently; They are very different to men in search of cannabis than women.”
One time, in Bolivia, she was able to get a bag of weed and immediately began breaking the bud up and rolling joints. Lovin’ recalls that all of the locals were laughing “like giddy children” at the fact that a woman was rolling joints.
"They had never seen that in their culture. It was not something the women did in most of the places I was working and traveling...women didn't smoke…It was the funniest thing they had ever seen...I would smoke it and they would just giggle and giggle."
In South Africa, the men she would ask for weed would tell her to get a male friend to go get it, and she’d have to have Andy go get the pot because they wouldn’t allow her to do so.
"It was like that everywhere I was. It was very difficult as a woman to get pot."
The First Big Pivot
By 2008, Lovin’s travels had brought her back to Denver, where she was bartending and waiting tables. By this time, you could get a medical card that also afforded you the ability to grow. Lovin got her card and immediately started growing.
“This is my next thing. My big pivot. I’ve been a pothead since 15. Since the first bowl I smoked I have been a daily smoker (except when I was a really young hippie and I couldn’t afford pot). I would do everything I could so that I always had pot, and I’d ration it so I could smoke it every day. The first time I got my card was great because I could buy it, but also I could grow my own plants. I had to do that, and did so immediately.”
Like many, Lovin’s first grow setup was modest, an old ebb and flow system with minimal lights and tools for success.
“I picked up a bunch of clones on Craigslist and just kept reinvesting. Every single time I wanted to do better. I love pot and I wanted it to get better. Every single time it is about growing better.”
Since then, Lovin's grow setups have evolved significantly, but she’s always tinkering or trying something new to continue to push the envelope of what is possible.
"Now, I am totally addicted to growing pot and seeing how far I can take it. I am so comfortable around the plant now...Things come at you and they are not as overwhelming; You feel confident in problem solving and finding solutions and helping the plant along the way...With that confidence and comfort allows a freedom...A lot of growers don’t take the time to explore the intricacies of the plant on a deeper level."
Unlike others, Lovin’ does not adhere to nor preach one specific method of growing. She works with different setups, substrates and feeds as needed depending on what each plant wants to thrive—something that requires both an expert attention to detail and an investment in the time it takes to get to know each variety beyond a single cycle.
"Lots of people think there is one way… I have come to realize in life that anything that comes easy isn’t necessarily the best...To have a little more creative freedom, dive deeper into the genetics and expressions…It's really fascinating to me and I don’t mind taking the time to find solutions."
While excited by the freedom to explore, Lovin’ recognizes that her comfort in the grow did not come immediately, nor easily.
"It's nice to have that [level of comfort] in a grow now; It wasn’t always like that. The ebb and flow system was not as easy…I flooded the house, had spider mites, PM…all in the same cycle…anything that could happen would happen, but you figure it out.”
Lovin’ credits her time spent in grow stores for the amount of information she absorbed.
"I was in there trying to combat and fix issues. I would live in grow stores...I would get done waitressing and just sit at the grow store for 4 hours eavesdropping on what people were saying...I was just a sponge for information. I wanted all the info. I still am. Now, I have more questions than when I started…the deeper you go the more you realize this is an endless wormhole.”
In addition to soaking up information on how to handle various issues, she also got to a point where certain standards had to be implemented in the grow.
"You get to a point where you have experienced enough pathogens that you stop, and you start over...If I have a plant come in sick, it gets the axe. That’s why we pop seeds,” Lovin’ explains. "As soon as we popped seeds, we didn’t have to worry about pathogens...every time that I have gotten bugs in a grow, it's because of clones.”
While many still offer her cuts, with rare exception, Lovin’ would rather partake in the thrill of the hunt. From those keepers, commonly known as “Lovin’s Cuts,” they’ve now had the opportunity to make their own seeds to hunt through in addition to those of other breeders.
"Almost everything we pop now are our own genetics…we are looking for our own creations, looking at making more of our own crosses and breeding with our own crosses …[and being] more artistic with it within our own interests,” says Lovin’.
Andy likens their path from hunting others’ seeds to hunting and making their own to that of the path of an aspiring musician who starts by covering songs before eventually writing their own.
And they’re both visibly excited by the opportunity to compose their own hits.
The Second Pivot: From Commercial to Connoisseur
After a couple of cycles, Lovin’ got hired in the industry as a commercial grower in 2009 for a small mom and pop shop in Denver. From there, she moved to a larger, 10,000 sq. ft. facility.
"I want to work for my own dreams, you know? There’s no reason we can’t make our own dreams come true.”
At the time, the price per pound of cannabis was steadily declining while the amount of average commercial bud was increasing daily. Rather than compete in an oversaturated price race, Lovin set her sights on boutique, small-batch products that were targeted towards the end user.
Initially, they looked at the market and looked for niche interests, consumers who had a taste for high quality and did not need bulk amounts. This was sustainable, and they were able to work for themselves, with Beth focusing on the plants and Andy picking up odd jobs.
“A friend of a friend said to us, ‘Don’t you have a brand?’ And said we need to have an Instagram and start branding this,” Lovin recalls.
Having very little experience with social media and branding, it took some trial and error to figure out what content worked and aligned with the “brand.”
“[Lovin’ In Her Eyes] wasn’t designed to be a brand. It was just for fun…Then, we realized [Instagram] was more picture-based...I just have to start taking better pictures of the flowers, so I have to grow prettier flowers to take prettier pictures to get people interested… I started writing about my love for growing cannabis and people had interest in what I was writing and what I was saying.”
Through this process and search for branding, Lovin also began to take note of other brands, including their packaging, eventually coming across ETHOS’ Original Mandarin Sunset and Original Crescend0 packs.
“[Colin] always had good branding, so we would hear about him and see his packs...It was better branding than what we had seen previously for seeds. So we started growing his [genetics] and taking pictures. He reposted me and in one day I got like 1500 extra followers. From thereon, [the audience] started growing really big and really fast.”
As the audience grew, so did the amount of time it took to help them.
“I realized that there are a lot of people who need help. Everyone is just as confused. I'm just as confused. But people assume that maybe I know more than them, but I just know different stuff than them. I only know what I’ve been through. I only know my personal situations with the plant…I know a lot about a little bit."
Lovin’ is forthcoming about the limitations of her understanding of the plant, acknowledging the “endless possibilities” that it can offer and the constant room for greater understanding, something Andy has helped dial in technically.
“I knew how to fix it by noticing a leaf; I knew the solution but didn’t have the understanding,” adds Lovin’. "That’s the greatest thing that Andy brought into the relationship besides his ability to build...From ‘this needs to happen,’ he can execute.”
The two work hand in hand, combining Lovin’s understanding of the plant from her experiences with Andy’s knowledge of plant biology and genetics, to get a greater understanding of what they observe in the grow.
“I've shown him something and known, ‘Oh, just add more nitrogen. I can’t tell you why, but if you add this bottle it will fix it.’ [Together, we have] a greater understanding of what is going on; we are not formally educated in botany or plants, but we are good at research."
Widespread Panic, Memphis, Fall 2011
The pair behind Lovin’ In Her Eyes met at a Widespread Panic Concert in Memphis, TN. Andy lived in Massachusetts. Beth was still living and growing in CO.
“He offered me a beer, I offered him a joint….then he came to Colorado to visit and never left,” Lovin’ laughs.
“The only thing I could have grown at that point was a beard,” Andy adds. "After we met in Memphis, later that night, she gave me a bag of weed and said roll a joint.”
“He said, 'Where did you get this?’ And I said, ‘I grew it.’”
“I laughed at her,” Andy recalls. "I’d been spending time in Lake Tahoe and Portland and I had few friends in Colorado that grew but it wasn’t like what she gave me. I remember it was that much better than anything I'd seen."
From the first time he visited, Beth put him to work harvesting and setting up lights.
“I had a plan to come out and live with a buddy who didn’t have his act together,” Andy begins. “I came out here and didn’t have a place. Beth said live with me in the meantime while you look, then I never left. She said, 'If you are gonna be here, you’re going to help.’”
“I put him to work immediately...He was my edible chef and hashmaker, and I managed the place as the grower,” says Lovin’.
“I always had jobs in the kitchen,” Andy explains, admitting he had never made edibles nor hash, but was able to figure it out after some trial and error. “He can figure anything out,” Lovin’ adds.
Once they had the basics of growing, extraction, and edibles, Lovin’ as a brand was self-sufficient. That’s when they started focusing on learning some of the more technical skills needed in the grow. Due to the nature of their work, they couldn’t always welcome someone into the space to fix a vacuum line or tinker with the electricity; they had to adapt and be able to find solutions on their own.
“If you're in the middle of something, you can’t just get a plumber. You have to figure this out. It’s much easier to just learn those skills yourself…Well, it’s easier until you don’t do it right,” Andy laughs. The same holds true for grows, and they both agree that this is a large shortcoming of the commercial cannabis industry as it stands currently.
As a team, they both pay an extreme amount of attention to detail, something that is all for naught in the industry. Generally, it is not properly cared for in post-harvest. “Typically, commercial [cannabis] is messed up in post-processing, not the grow. It got the attention, but there is so much material and [crews are] usually understaffed.
“There is a lack of proper help and a lot of commercial grows don’t dedicate space to curing and drying…They stuff rooms and closets with more product than should be or they are not taking off enough leaves before hanging…there are places where they want to speed dry and do a 4 day dry and then shelf it for sale...Those practices get frustrating after a while for someone who enjoys paying attention to detail.”
"I enjoy paying attention,” Lovin’ emphasizes. "I enjoy noticing the difference in the plants, trying to make them as happy and healthy as possible. To watch it time and time again get ruined during post processing, it's heartbreaking, honestly. I still don’t have post processing perfected, but, commercially, that’s where the ball gets dropped."
The dry and cure phases are where the biggest struggle seems to be, especially when accounting for different indoor seasons. Contrary to popular belief, indoor growers also deal with seasonal changes as their systems work to account for environmental differences from season to season.
“There are at least three seasons for indoor growers in Colorado,” begins Lovin’. “Even if you have your AC and humidity dialed in, there are subtle changes. In the summer, your AC runs all the time, resulting in dryer air. In the winter, it’s the inverse. This affects electrical efficiency, the microclimates with the room, and day and night differentials that absolutely make a difference in indoor growing…In the winter, your cold floor will affect the temperatures of the roots, so maybe you move the air faster to make it more uniform.
As a smaller, boutique grower focused on quality over yields, Lovin’ has an advantage over commercial producers that often may not make these small, seasonal adjustments for their entire facilities.
A Focus on Constant Evolution
While her garden continues to get dialed in with each cycle, Lovin’s focus on leveling up doesn’t stop at the threshold of the grow. They’re also making water hash, rosin and infused products like tinctures, topicals and edibles, learning as they go by repurposing grow byproducts like trim and larf.
“[We make] hash, tincture, topicals and edibles…they’re a byproduct, not a focus. We have the material, so let’s use it. Let’s learn all the aspects of how we can process all this material,” Lovin’ explains.
Never wasteful, this resourcefulness led to an evolution of craft as well.
“I started making hash with bubble bags in 2009. I’ve been making bubble since I started growing. I had all this good trim, and I had to learn how to process it. I was familiar with the processes for making concentrates and related products. Then rosin was coming out. I remember making rosin for the first time and getting my first press. I was fascinated when Rosin first came out...I had used hair straighteners before and had a mediocre press, but once we got the PurePressure press, that's when I got more serious about hashmaking. I remember being really satisfied with the beautiful clear light yellow ooze coming out…From growing it to washing it to pressing it and going through that process, you really get familiar with the kind of resin, the terpene profile, the subtle differences between going from flower to bubble hash to rosin. "
“We do a test run with larf, then do whole plant runs…I don’t mind larf at all. The light hits all around the resin gland and my mind says it’s more accessible…with hard nugs on top, all of the resin on the inside of the bud is underdeveloped.
Lovin’s experiments have compared a variety of nuanced aspects that many don’t have the time or dedication to run, everything from seeing which cuttings root faster (tops or lateral branches) to experimenting with growing the same genetics under different lights.
“I run a tight ship,” Lovin’ reminds. “If we are harvesting, that room will be set up [again] in under 24 hours with no down time. It’s a well-oiled machine…But it had to be. It was that or still be bartending at night. I had to figure out a way to continue to do what I was passionate about without sharing that time for someone else’s dreams…I knew that if I did that, it meant I could spend more time with the plant doing something I enjoyed, rather than giving [my time] away to work for someone else dreams for a paycheck...I knew when I was making my own products it was for myself, for my future. I took it very seriously. That’s how badly I wanted to work for myself, and, specifically, work with the plant."
While Beth and Andy had completely accepted the role of cannabis in their pursuits, their families didn’t take to it quite as well.
“It scared my family,” Lovin’ says. "My dad smoked pot when I was a kid. I remember him smoking and seeing a screwdriver in the garage with resin from scraping metal pipes before I even smoked.”
Growing up in the 80s, the D.A.R.E. program was still a pillar of childhood education, and Lovin’ remembers teachers encouraging students to snitch on their family members.
“The D.A.R.E. program was really big when I was a kid,” she recalls. “They’d come in and show you fake bags of weed and try to get you to turn in your parents…basically, if you knew any of your family members that were doing any drugs on the board, they’d tell you to come talk to them after. I remember being scared because I knew my dad had that stuff in his drawer.”
Needless to say, this fear campaign left its mark.
"My father really never had much problem with it; My mother was scared. It's always scared her, she’s always been uncomfortable…there was pure terror on her face when visiting a commercial grow. It was overwhelming. She knew it was legal but still thought I could get in trouble. She still thinks I'm going to get in trouble, she’s worried about that. She’s my mom; she’s going to worry.”
“My mom at first was like this is not a real thing,” Andy begins. “She said, ‘You need to use your degree.’”
That degree in entrepreneurship management and electrical engineering has turned out to be quite helpful in their grow and business.
“When I first told my dad I got a job 10 years ago working at a dispensary in CO, he said, ‘Holy crap, really?’” Andy recalls.
The Third Pivot: Cannabis Is Art; Get Your Colors.
As the industry continued to mature, Lovin’ was faced with the same problem again: how to make a decent living while doing what she loves—without getting swallowed by corporate behemoths or resorting to the legacy market.
“We quickly decided to pivot; we didn’t want to be among the dinosaurs watching the asteroid getting closer.”
“We were sitting at Colin’s house,” Andy continues. "He looked at Beth and said, ‘Why aren’t you breeding? You are a breeder and you don’t even know it. Your attention to detail. You already pheno hunt…all you aren’t doing is making seeds and testing them. You're obviously looking for something because you keep doing this and keep not settling for run of the mill. Why don’t you create what you see missing on your palette of paint? Cannabis is art; get your colors.’"
“So, I started with basic colors, but now it is about blending,” adds Lovin’. “[Colin] gave me new insight and pushed me into a direction that I didn’t see that I will be forever grateful for him pushing me in that direction...My biggest hope is that I finally find the genetics that complete a vision that I see in the marriage of different plants. Being able to isolate different characteristics and put those together and put that puzzle together and create that vision, that’s one of the coolest things that I have ever done in my life."
With each pivot, Lovin’ has also had to commit more time to the process, which has resulted in an even deeper bond with the plants.
"You can’t cook food all day, 8 hours, 10 hours, 16 hours a day and not have personal relationship with the meal you’re preparing,” Lovin’ reminds.
“You can, it’s just not going to be any good,” Andy adds. “There’s no soul to it. Plants being alive, they pick up on that quick."
This observation parallels the insights that Beth found in The Secret Life of Plants.
“Plants pick up on our energy,” she explains. “Plants actually understand the intentions of their caretaker. The more you care, the more you put yourself into wanting to help and having good intentions to give them a healthy environment to thrive. A lot of plants in a grow survive; It's up to the grower to change that into where you can help them thrive. The plants know when you help them thrive, and they give it back. It's soul food for both parties…and for everyone that gets to partake in that kind of cannabis."
A Labor of Love
Much has changed since Lovin’ first entered the cannabis space—laws have evolved, the market has surged and the potential for new crosses continues to grow.
“When I first got in, it was neutral; not better or worse. It was such a new world. Growing in AZ was tough with strict laws and brown weed. But in Colorado, you could go to a store and buy kind bud, and learn how to grow your own. There’s too much excitement to have any judgment. There was no judgment of it being bad. It was just lesson after lesson. I was a sponge for all of it...For the first time in my life, to not live in fear for something that had been in my life for at that point 20 years…for the first time do it without fear of prosecution...It was glorious.”
And that excitement has only grown stronger as Lovin’s efforts have evolved from something that had to be done to survive, to something that is willingly done to thrive.
"I have the same excitement about what I am doing now. If anything I have a deeper connection. I am finally at a place in my life where this is what I want to do. For a long time, it is kind of what I had to do. I was doing whatever I could to make ends meet. It was more of what you have to do while pursuing a passion. But it has taken a turn; it is what I choose to do. I have already traveled, been to lots of places, had a lot of friends, been to many parties, and feel like I have lived many lives so far. But what I haven’t done is focus on my passion with my everything and make sacrifices to put that first in almost every aspect of my life.”
One such sacrifice has been personal time, though they are quick to offer that “personal time” with the plants is just as enjoyable as “personal time” in the conventional sense of passion projects done outside of the constraints of “work."
"Personal time is something that I’m just used to not having anymore. But I have more of it, because personal time is doing what I want to do, which is spend more time with plants. Not traveling, not spending time with people. I’d rather spend time with plants than people. It's that desire and excitement that has made breeding so exciting…It’s like a big chessboard, and you have to have the foresight. I love the mental challenge of putting all of that together and I want to be good at that; I give it my all. That’s one thing I have never done, I’ve never given something all of me,” observes Lovin’.
“When I met you, you had only been growing for 2-3 years,” Andy says to her. “It’s like watching a kid go to his first karate class. Super excited, you’d go into the grow and do your thing, and I’ve watched you evolve into a grand master…permeating to your outlook on life. Like a monk, a weed monk.”
“It’s a daily thing. We don’t have to do it everyday, but I want to do it every day,” adds Lovin’. “That passion only grows.”
They laugh, admitting that some liken the obsession with plants to OCD, but it’s a virtue, rather than a hindrance, to have such excitement and time to spend with your passions.
"After we are done with this [interview], I'm going to go play with the plants,” Lovin’ tells me. "Because I want to, not because I have to. The plants don’t need it. Sometimes they might get annoyed by it… ‘oh it’s you again,’” she says, laughing while imitating the plants.
Their hunger to continuously improve as well as the dedication to their craft are a reminder that there is always something that can be done, or improved, in your pursuits, whatever they may be.
“I’m in the pursuit to grow better than I did the previous round. That’s what my pursuit is: to always do better...I don’t think there is one way [to do that], aside from having a personal relationship with plants, and a lot don’t have that…In that pursuit, there’s always something to do. Even if the grow is fine, I promise you can always find something to do...It’s like the mailroom, you think you get it all delivered today, but tomorrow morning, there’s going to be a fat mailbag there."
Still, the pair say that they have gotten used to the sacrifices that the lifestyle requires.
"We’ve gotten comfortable with that lifestyle. We tried to juggle having a life for a while, tried to “get ahead,” but you don’t...It's very hard to get ahead, but you can get behind. Every time we have left, even if just for 2 days, it made a difference…it's harder and more work when you’re behind, and it creates more work in the end…It has required a lot of sacrifice, and we don’t travel like we used to. The tradeoff is that we are doing what we love and get to be really passionate about it and work in a direction with a lot of creative freedom and artistic value that hopefully in the end isn’t just something that we are doing for us; that others will benefit from this...To have other people think these creations are as exciting as I do, that would be amazing.”
Time will tell, but Lovin’s trajectory seems to be headed down this path.
An Evolving Palette
Now, as they work through a variety of new breeding projects, the pair is getting a chance to see that secondhand excitement in real time.
“Breeding is the same [relationship], but different. It takes it a step deeper, like watching your kids go to college,” Lovin’ explains.
“Seeing other people grow [our seeds] has been mind-blowing,” adds Andy.
“We are just starting to see other people having success,” Lovin’ says, citing her fear that her genetics would not be good enough as a new breeder.
"That was a big fear of mine: not being good enough. I'm sure most people have that fear of not being good enough. [Success] eases some of that fear. It allows me to continue getting more comfortable with the plant. I have a little bit more confidence now and think, ‘Ok, people do like this, I can try more,’ and it gives me the motivation to work and try harder so that I can create something new. My palette is always evolving.”
Currently, Lovin’s palette is about 75% genetics that they created and are pheno-hunting. She saves about a quarter of the garden for finding new genetics, plants that uniquely speak to her, or simply for “growing a plant that I just want to smoke.”
But that fear of worthiness had a measurable impact: it took nearly two years for Lovin’ to feel comfortable releasing the first batch of seeds.
“Two years ago right now we took down the first seeds,” Andy explains. “We sat on them for 18 months. Finally, a few people kicked her into the pool,” he says of the final push to launch the seeds.
“I didn’t want someone to not have success; to be responsible for someone else’s failure was a heavy load,” Lovin’ concedes.
“[Growing] meant so much to me for so long, starting with such a small garden and growing over time…It always meant so much to me that I know what these hiccups do to you: the financial burden it can cause, the emotional burden it can cause. To open yourself up to being vulnerable to other people making a mistake with something you made or a combined mistake, it's nerve-racking to open yourself up to the possibility of failure, on my part, their part, or a combination.”
With flower, Lovin’ had found a sense of comfort and familiarity, but with the pivot, what started as seed-making is slowly transitioning into breeding.
“[Previously], I would take two other people’s work and make a cross; I’ve been seed-making for a while. I feel that this year, and especially coming into next year, it is now turning into true breeding. We are isolating characteristics and moving in a very deliberate direction, and being able to use our previous visions of crosses into our own breeding.”
“It’s not just mixing paint and ending up with cool colors,” Andy adds.
Without passion, Lovin’ says that consistency would not come so naturally. Take the time to become better at your craft, and truly commit to the daily grind, giving it everything.
"Consistency in everything is pure passion; It just bleeds out of you naturally,” Lovin’ explains. “It's about making time to learn and practice … You can learn and practice anything. It’s about how much time you are willing to take out to pursue practice. I knew how to make bubble hash but it took 10 years before I made great hash.”
This consistency and level of expertise might seem daunting to acquire. If you’re truly passionate, you’re just as excited taking care of the grow as you might be doing something else. And often, that means telling others no so that you can work on your craft.
And it can be hard to find others whose passion and consistency can take the reins while Lovin’s focus is elsewhere.
“It would be nice to have someone to help, but we tried it once and got extremely let down. They would have to practice all day and we would get behind teaching someone to do everything that we do...No one is going to care as much about our plants as we do. People have good intentions, but the bottom line is that most just don’t see the details, or they very quickly want to think their way is better and change your process without you knowing.”
Like music, passion, practice and consistency are the main ingredients to a successful grow and breeding project.
"We are a big music household,” Lovin’ reminds. “It is equally important to both of us and has always been deep in our hearts and souls. We met over music. We grow to music…I listen to everything. And I like my cannabis like that.”
Through this pursuit to evolve the palette and create new colors, Lovin’ created Spanish Moon, the cross of Colorado Rain—Indigo, a mysterious Craigslist clone, and Peach Crescendo—and Pirate Cake. They’ve been working the genetic line to see what unique projects can come from the cross. The variety, whose name comes from the song Spanish Moon by Little Feat, is only the beginning of this multi-year project.
“We were smoking it for the first time and this song came on, Spanish Moon, and we thought, ‘How about that?’” adds Andy. "Both of us were like, ‘Yeah, that’s perfect,'” Lovin’ echos.
“Spanish moon is the first plant that I’ve been really, really excited about in a while,” she says. “It has a lot to offer to people that are into terpenes and offers commercial viability.”
"That’s the first plant that we’ve really dove deep into and have crossed it into a lot of our other plants. That way we can truly observe how that plant’s traits breed through and really figure out what is dominant. This allows us to start isolating characteristics that we really love. Spanish moon and her progeny will be a plant and projects that I will be working on for years. It’s a multi-year project with this plant. It involved a few generations of breeding to get there. We used everything from cuts we have had for 10 years to seeds we have hunted, and used them to create Spanish Moon. We have and will continue to backcross, inbreed and work the line."
Through their combined years of experience and knowledge testing plants in a variety of formats, Lovin’ is able to discern which traits help to create the desirable expressions they’re seeking.
"Learning to make hash made me a better grower and growing better made better hash,” Andy emphasizes. “You get addicted to chasing that better end product."
“I remember when we talked about things other than plants...We haven’t been rational in years; you gotta be nuts,” laughs Lovin’.
“It takes a certain amount of lunacy,” adds Andy.
“We have friends who call and ask about life and I talk about plants the whole time...they talk about shows or travel, and I'll say, ‘Did you smell that terpene? We haven’t seen that in years!' I want to talk about plants...That obsession and that practice of always doing cannabis everything
Myths & Lessons
Through multiple decades of growing, Lovin’ has come to see both the commercial and home grow sides, as well as the producer and consumer sides, and through it all, she’s most certain she still doesn’t know a fraction of what the plant has to teach.
“The biggest lesson cannabis taught me was that I don’t know anything; I don’t know shit,” confesses Lovin’.
“It's really just made me step back and become a much more open minded person...that part has bled into all aspects of my life.”
Similarly, they are the first to cast down the misnomer that this is a right way to grow or that there is ownership to plants you breed, encouraging others to “cover their songs” and play with the palettes they create.
"I want everyone to succeed with our genetics—breeders, anyone—it doesn’t matter to me,” continues Lovin’. "If something we created benefits anyone in any way I am all for it, I think that is fantastic; I would love to be a part of that continuing spirit. It is really cool to think that there are other cannabis artists out there that would find something unique that I made that they want to put their creative twist on. It's like hearing a cover of a song and hearing a slightly different artistic version. I want everyone to enjoy this plant. That’s what’s most important.”
And those genetics will only continue to get better—as will the covers, and Lovin’s direction for breeding.
"I don’t have a favorite color; it changes. Sometimes I like green, sometimes blue, sometimes I really dig orange,” she says. "Cannabis is like that for me. There is such a variety.”
For growers like Lovin’ in Her Eyes, there’s always room to improve, tweaks to be made and lessons to be learned.
“There’s always something missing, that sounds so bad, but it is a never-ending quest. There’s always something that can be done,” she says.
“It’s not even, ‘There is something missing,’” Andy reminds, “It’s, ‘I bet we could make this better.'”
And it's a reminder that anyone can bring their personal magic to a situation.
“It's a push for curiosity,” Lovin’ emphasizes.
“Can this get better, gassier, frostier or whatever? Can you put those two traits together? Let's try it. How far can we push it? Musicians always do that. Miles Davis, the Grateful Dead, they always did that. What can I bring to the table?’"